Evangelism Need Not Be Apologetics: Some Thoughts About Sharing Your Faith

e•van•ge•lism, noun: the preaching or promulgation (proclaiming) of the gospel
a•pol•o•get•ics, noun: the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.

Even in the dictionary, these two words, "evangelism" and "apologetics," are different, are not the same thing.

And yet, I think that as Christians, we tend to melt the two together to be one, thinking that if we are going to “evangelize” then that means we have to have all of the answers about why God allows suffering and what going to hell means and how old the Earth is and whether King David really lived or why God does this or says that or what this or that really means.

Having all the answers to those kinds of questions falls into the "apologetics" category.  They're good questions and ones that many of us wrestle with, to be sure. But do we have to have the answers to them?

Too often, I think that we assume that if we're going to "proclaim the gospel" (meaning, "evangelize"), then we must. We think that to share the gospel, we have to be able to defend Scripture and pull verses up from memory for every discourse. We think that if we’re going to share the Good News, then we have to be able to do it in 60 seconds or less and start off with the question, “If you died today, where would you go?” and then explain it all in context of Revelation and the bowls and plagues and horsemen and scrolls.

It’s enough to make even the boldest and bravest of Christians shrink back from the task.

And yet, if we look back at those definitions, we’ll see that evangelism simply asks us to “proclaim the gospel.” It doesn’t say anything about scientific equations or archaeological digs or cosmic evidence. It doesn’t say anything about knowing Hebrew or the ability to open the Bible to the exact page you intended without looking.

They're not bad questions and it certainly doesn't hurt if you have studied those kinds of hard questions and know the Hebrew and Greek of the original texts. Of course it is helpful when we're sharing the gospel to know verses and know Jesus' words and able to share those legacies of our faith with the people we're talking to.

But must we know it all? Must we have it all figured out before we evangelize?

A pastor once told me that if we want to evangelize, we should focus less on all academic and theological and classroom stuff, and focus instead on Jesus, plain and simple. Focus on Jesus and how his good news has affected me. Tell people about how he has changed my life and how he has shown me his love and how he’s saved me time and time again.

Proclaiming the gospel can simply be us taking the time to strip down to the bare bones of our faith walk and share what we’ve experienced of Jesus, firsthand.

Because then we can’t use any excuses when it comes to being inadequate or untrained. I may not have all the answers, but I can share my own story. And maybe, that’s all that it takes…

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The Truth About My Inadequacies: A Lesson from the Bible
My Testimony: Learning About God's Loyalty Firsthand


  1. THis is so true. I especially like the part about your story is your story. You don't have to "prove" it. You are just telling what happened to you. It's kind of like how you can tell someone "I drove over to the grocery store" without being able to tell them all the internal workings of the car and how the gasoline makes it go!

    1. Exactly. It takes so much of the pressure off when you realize all you have to do is tell your story--no "convincing" needed. That's the Holy Spirit's job!

  2. Loved this...as someone who became a Christian through missionaries at university I appreciated having the gospel explained to me time and time again and asking lots of difficult questions. Now when I explain my faith I always have to remind myself not to get caught up in the academic side, but instead talk about how Jesus has changed my life, and answer those questions if they come up.

    1. So true! Especially where you said "and answer those questions if they come up." Some people may or may not even be interested in the academic stuff! And if they are, like you said you were, it seems like in those instance God will prove faithful to guide them to the right resources. Not everyone needs that and not everyone is equipped to do that--and yet the Lord uses us just as and just where we are!

  3. AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVED this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think the confusion of apologetics as evangelism is really a big fear among believers when it comes to sharing the Gospel. My pastor always says the same thing - share what God has done in your own life. People really do appreciate that more: hearing that you're a real person with real problems and that a REAL GOD EXISTS who loves them and can save them.

    1. So glad you enjoyed this post! I think sometimes we put too much of the emphasis on ourselves when sharing about God instead of trusting that we're merely a conduit and a tool, but that it's the Holy Spirit who will take care of any "convincing" that may be needed. Takes the pressure off tremendously and is very freeing for me personally!

  4. It's interesting that I read this now (I'm sooo behind on your posts!). I'm going to share something (sorry it's a bit long):

    I have recently had bouts with Atheism, particularly from a guy I knew in high school whom I use to talk with. I think my got along because we agreed to disagree; I was Christian and he was researching all kinds of things [back then]. I remember him trying to get my "defend my position" saying that the "old me" would have. I was pretty distraught at the time because I felt like I should have been able to "defend" the Word and my beliefs and I couldn't, I just didn't know what to say.

    Here's the "but God" moment though: one of the assistant pastors from my church called a few moments later! I told him what happened (I was in tears!) and he encouraged me again by telling me that God is not mocked and that the Word doesn't return void. :) That Sunday, the lead pastor said I don't think I'll ever forget; he said "..instead of swinging at the darkness, you just need to turn on the light."

    From what I learned that week, God is MY defender, He doesn't NEED me, but rather I'm a witness to the great things He has done. I agree, it's all about Jesus! Although, I am trying to understand His Word more and more so that when when someone asks, I'm ready to give the right answer.

    1. So, so true! I love how God confirmed to you at just the right time what your place is (and what is the Holy Spirit's!). It's encouraging because it reminds that we are just tools--God is still ALWAYS in control, even when people don't respond the way we wish they would or take our words out of context or whatever. I love that "slogan": "God is MY defender." Beautiful reminder!

    2. Thanks, Carmen! Your reply encourages me :)

  5. Hi Carmen,
    Greetings from Belfast, Ireland!
    I read your piece on Apologetics and evangelism because I get stuff sent from Crosswalk.

    I teach both subjects at the Irish Baptist College and would stress that anyone who is a Christian must pray daily for 'God opportunities' to say something about the best news and our most wonderful Friend - our Lord Jesus. at the same time people do have questions on all kinds of issues so one can read and ponder about some issues. It is always important to listen to what a non-Christian is asking, or complaining about. It is always important to be honest and say 'I don't actually know an anaswer to that problem but i'll think about it and get back to you.' Sometimes it is good to say, 'If I could answer all your questions on Evil, Death, Evolution v Creationism, pluralism etc.etc. would you be willing to talk about Jesus Christ?' A useful book that ties your two issues is 'Bridge-Building' by Alistair McGrath. Apologetics can strehgthen our evangelism but winning arguments might mean not winning souls!!! God bless, Jim (Murdoch)


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